When The Wars Are Over - A Flowerdene Story

Co-written by myself and Absurd Rogue, the farewell RP story between Eli and Eglantine.

When Eglantine drops in to see Eli, they tend to bring drinks. In this case, they’ve come with empty hands, and a hat comprised mainly of bottles of alcohol. Somewhere along the way, they seem to have decided that Elias Lowe needs considerably more laughs in his life. Sometimes those laughs might be from witty social commentary. Sometimes they might be from a ludicrous hat.

Everybody has one of those days.

Eli checks over his shoulder morosely as Eglantine enters. &quotTrying to catch some eyes today, Barker?&quot

&quotIf I wanted that, I’d wear a sorrow-spider on there.&quot They make their first stop the table, to remove the hat, before heading over to Eli. &quotYou asked specifically for me to be here, and here I am. What do you need?&quot

&quotSiobhan thinks she’s going on a honeymoon with me to Port Carnelian.&quot Eli states. &quotAnd she is, but I’m not going to be on that ship. I need you to keep her on board and calm until The Yamato can rendezvous with the yacht at the Carnelian Coast. Do whatever you have to to keep her on that boat until I get there.

&quotWhen I arrive, she can throw a hissy fit or whatever. We’ll be in the clear and business will be back on track when we arrive back in London.&quot

&quot…You’re going to do something reckless.&quot Eglantine’s eyes narrow slightly. &quotAnd you’re keeping me away from it, whatever it is.&quot

&quotReckless? Not so much. And yes, I am. ELO has agreed to a parlay between me and him, alone, on a coastal shelf off the Prickfinger Wastes. I’m going to clip him and then we can move on as planned, without that savage breathing down our necks.&quot

&quotI should be there with you.&quot They hold up a hand. &quotYou said alone, yes, but you know perfectly well that I can avoid being seen. I can think of a half-dozen ways already.&quot

&quotIt will be pitch darkness, in treacherous ground, with no proper witnesses. It’s perfect.&quot Eli scowls. &quotI think I can put down a cripple, I don’t need your help there. I do need your help making sure my wife doesn’t do anything stupid.&quot

&quotYou mean, more stupid than what you’re doing?&quot There’s an exasperated huff of breath. &quotYou could send me in your place, even. I can pass long enough. And he’ll be expecting you, and the condition he’s probably heard you’re in.&quot

&quotYeah, no. I don’t trust you to handle this, you’re not exactly a professional.&quot Eli is suddenly rather sour, sweeping pencil shavings off his desk. &quotI asked you to kill Lord Gazter, and yet you’re still perfectly content to be his arm candy. It’s no secret he’s a member of the BSP and you spared him, on your home turf. Why?&quot

&quotYou said I could if I chose, not that I had to,&quot Eglantine objects, stung. &quotI chose not to.&quot They sit down, looking irritated and weary - a more honest expression than most of their usual coy smiles. &quotI weighed it up, believe me. But I have his measure already, and I’d rather deal with a known quantity. Especially a known quantity sentimentally attached enough to hesitate before doing harm to me.&quot

&quotThat’s a flimsy excuse and you know it. Gazter has his head so far up his own asscrack that his ears ring when he farts.&quot Eli props his head up on his hand and looks out the grimy window, dying moths caught between the window and the pane.

&quotWhatever, he’s not an issue anymore. His existence is just an annoyance, not an issue so much… It makes me concerned that perhaps your head isn’t in the game so much anymore…&quot

&quotIt is. It always has been.&quot They look earnestly at him. &quotWhen I joined up with you, I meant it, and I still mean it. This - all of this - it’s important. And you’re the heart of it. People need you.&quot Eglantine looks away, a little melancholy. &quotI want to do this for you. And for them, all of the ones looking to you, who’ll be better off once you’re a little safer.&quot

&quotAnd I will be. But Flowerdene is not solely my own, you taught me that.&quot Eli clasps Eglantine’s shoulder and regards them with unreadable eyes, his spectacles undonned, he is clearly blind. &quotFlowerdene lives on in the shared fire that burns within all of us. Not one branch on one tree, but a forest, whose roots make up a dynasty. It is in our blood. And I will be here to see it through as long as my bones will allow me to. I promise you that, Eglantine.&quot

&quotYou better. You dramatic bastard.&quot They chuckle weakly. &quotYou’re not going to let me do this, are you? Always spoiling my fun.&quot

Eli wants to be stern, but his scowl is turned upwards. &quotNope, bodyguard duty for you. Let me handle the dirty work and you can swoop in with a chest full of medals. And don’t worry, I’m sure the two of you will find ways to pass the time. The boat was laden with alcohol when I stole it. Forgot to ‘confiscate’ it.&quot

&quotI’ll keep her safe. You keep yourself safe, and then we can all laugh over the sentimental reunion.&quot They pat Eli’s shoulder lightly. &quotI’ll even teach Ezekiel a new style of joke on the subject, just for you.&quot

&quotEzekiel will be staying in London to make sure everything is kept by the books while we’re away. He’s useful for keeping the Fletchers in check, that’s for damn sure…&quot Eli scratches his head. &quotLook, I apologize if I snapped at you. I’ve been a little on edge lately, just been… introspective.&quot

&quotIt’s all right. The whole thing’s been difficult, I know.&quot Seldom one to pass up a privilege few people could safely get away with, Eglantine briefly embraces Eli, and gives him a light, fleeting kiss on the cheek. &quotWhen the wars are over, even heroes can rest. Good luck, Anton.&quot Then, they’re slipping away across the room, snaring one of the flasks they brought with them as they go.

Eli’s eyes follow them out the doorway, attachment and longing replacing authority and ruthlessness. He regards the drawing he’s made, the final diagram for the manuscript he’s about to send to the press. A manual on a new kind of fighting art. He cries.

He has entirely told Eglantine the truth.